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Are Your Hip-Hop Promotion Efforts Working? Here’s 8 Ways To Find Out


You want to know if you’re making more money than you’re spending right? That’s the most basic principal of running a business. So when you’re an independent hip-hop artist or small label, that principal is no different. Marketing budgets can be tight and every cent matters. I’ve experienced that myself. I get it.

However, if you’re a newly established brand or have just started to invest in yourself, you shouldn’t be expecting to see an immediate return on investment. That’s the reason I am writing this. I see where independent labels and artists spend money and then I hear or read about the frustration when things aren’t working out.

There are usually two primary contributors to this frustration:

  • An artist or label invests in short term promotion tactics, which are inefficient in the long run
  • An artist, their manager or promotion team haven’t decided how to measure their efforts

So they either give up, or spend their next lot of marketing budget on trying a different tactic. The circle continues.

I don’t want you to do that. Now, I am not saying these methods below are fool proof. They are not. Some might not even be relevant to you right now. The most important thing to take from this article is that, you need to be considering other non-financial indicators of success, particularly when you’ve just started spending money on your promotion campaigns.

Website Traffic Growth

This is a pretty standard metric in order for you to be able to measure popularity over time. To begin with, all you really want to know is whether there is an increase in people coming to check you or your artist/s out online.

My recommended steps in order to do this are:

  • Sign up for Google Analytics
  • Create a Property for your main website
  • Configure the account to remove traffic from your own IP address
  • Configure the account to exclude traffic from known bots/spiders

Need help? Get in touch.

Fan Loyalty

This is a metric within Google Analytics (and other Analytics tools) that can be really valuable over time in helping understand whether your promotion efforts are generating visits from loyal fans.

Essentially, you want to see an increase in your fans returning to your site. This is even more important to consider whilst you’re running a promotion campaign.

To do this, follow these steps:

  • Open Google Analytics
  • Audience > Behaviour > New Vs Returning

There’s no “golden ratio” of New Vs Returning visitors you should have. However, over time you want to ensure that the total number of returning users is increasing and you should expect to see a higher percentage of returning users during the window of your promotion campaign.

Your Email List

Your email list as an artist or label is one of your most valuable online assets. Check out this great interview with Talib Kweli where he talks about the role his own email database plays in his business model.

People still read email, particularly when it’s an artist they have a vested interest in.

A great way to start building your list is by offering SOMETHING exclusive to those who join. Thinking back to earlier this year, De La Soul did this great when they gave away the excellent “Smell the D.A.I.S.Y.” project for free. Well, at least in return for an email address. The next time they release a new project, tickets for a tour or merch, they’ve got a whole bunch of direct leads to kick off their marketing.

Social Community Growth

As part of building your brand, you’ll naturally want to see your community on social media grow over time. However, during a specific promotion campaign you should see your social following grow at a much faster rate.

How do you measure this? Simple.

  • Note down all the social platforms you have a presence on
  • As you start a campaign – record the total number of followers you have on each platform
  • Sum your collective social following
  • Note the budget and time period of the promotion campaign
  • Record the size of your social community the end of your campaign

If you benchmark this for your next marketing campaign, you’ll be able to compare your efforts for different promotion tactics in the future.

Number of Citations

Citations in this context are simply the number of times you or your project are mentioned online. Again, it’s a good habit to benchmark this for your next promotion campaign and then continue to compare the results to previous campaigns.

So what are the best ways to measure mentions of you online? Here are a couple of simple solutions.

I’d recommend setting up “As-it-happens” alerts, for all source types, in all regions and for all result. E.g. Stalley – Ohio

  • Use a paid database management or online monitoring tool

There are hundreds of paid PR and social media monitoring tools. If you’re an artist, ask your PR team or manager which one they are using and ask if they are comparing the differences in your campaigns.

If you’re a small label, PR team or publicist that needs some support choosing the right tools, get in touch and I will help.

If you’re looking for a free manual solution, try this:

  1. At the end of your campaign, hit Google
  2. Type in the name of the artist and project, e.g. Stalley – Ohio
  3. Click the “Search tools” option just below the search bar
  4. Click the option “Any time”, scroll down and click “Custom range”
  5. Now choose the date range for which you were focusing your PR efforts
  6. Two options here, if you want to judge the quality of the citations, you should run through the first 100 results manually and collate the social and readership details for those website. Alternatively, take a quick note of the total number of results Google has indexed for your search (you’ll have to click the “Search tools” options again to get this number.

Social Co-Signs

Rather than just keeping check on the amount of social comments, shares, retweets etc that you acquire, try focusing on the total reach of these social actions. Are the users or brands sharing your projects more or less influential than for previous campaigns? Are they who you expect them to be?

To test this, you could use social scores like Klout or PeerIndex to measure their social authority, or simply note down the total size of their audience on the platform that they shared your content.

Link Clicks

I’ve covered this in a little more detail previously, but the most popular link shortening tools such as and offer both the ability to customise URLs and also provide click statistics.

If you’re not making sales on the products you’re promoting, you should at least consider the amount of clicks you’re driving.

If you’re driving a tonne of clicks but are not seeing an increase in sales, it’s time to consider 2 things:

  1. Is your pricing strategy right?
  2. Are you promoting in the right areas? That could be on and/or offline.

Inbound Emails and Calls

This is one that I don’t hear a lot of people measure, but it’s so important and arguably one of the biggest non-financial indicators that your marketing efforts are working.

Are you getting more inbound emails or calls? You may not be making more direct sales, but if you’re getting emails for interview requests, booking requests, features or requests to be added to your mailing list, these are all windows of opportunity that can provide greater exposure and additional revenue streams. Building relationships and then managing them effectively is key for future growth.

Need more help?

Hopefully the list above will help you gain more of an understanding as to whether your current hip-hop promotion methods are working or not. If you’ve got any to add, let us know in the comments below. If you need help with a campaign, get in touch.

7 Hip-Hop Email Promotion and Etiquette Tips I Learned This Week


When I opened Outlook, I couldn’t believe what I saw. And no, I’m not talking about Kim K #BreakTheInternet.

I had over 300 unread emails this week, and it’s only Thursday. That’s not to brag, I am genuinely disappointed that I don’t get to read every single email. It makes me feel guilty.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the messages that I have opened or sent this week.  After a little analysis of my inbound and outbound emails, I thought I’d share some of what I found below.

1. Everyone’s got a street name.

In hip-hop, you have a minimum of two names. The one your mother gave you, and some shit that only makes sense to you and five close friends. I feel awkward if I don’t know how to address somebody, so I find this a great starting point when I am emailing someone new for the first time.

In the opening sentence, I almost always ask what name the recipient prefers to go by. This is great because:

1: You set off on the right foot.

2: They will immediately be able to acknowledge that you are interested in talking to them and that you’re not just sending a random email.

3: If you include this question within the first sentence, it will appear in most email notification previews and may encourage them to actually open the damn email.

2. Spell brand names correctly.

I personally appreciate this. Attention to detail matters. I hadn’t really noticed it until looking back, but I definitely open more emails where my brand name is spelt correctly when referenced.

For me, it’s a small sign that somewhere along the line, they’ve paid attention. So I like to make that extra effort in return.

It won’t always be clear from an email address as to how someone’s brand name should be written. There are some crazy ass email addresses in my mailing list. So if ever I am in doubt, I quickly Google them or locate the person or brand on Twitter.

3. Don’t use the FW: mislead. I accidentally done this and it sucks.

This week, I was sending out some emails where 80% the content was the same. I was only sending 15-20 of these emails so it didn’t warrant the set up of a specific email marketing template.

Instead, I was just using my last sent email as a template for the next one I was going to send. I re-opened these sent emails by using the ‘Forward‘ option.

Bad move. In a few of those emails, I forgot to remove the ‘FW:’ from the subject line that’s automatically added. None of those emails have been read.

I also haven’t read any emails this week that have used ‘FW’ in the subject line.

4. Pay attention to autoresponders.

Don’t ignore autoresponders. Get into the habit of reading them and it can be really valuable.

In fact, some of my recent connections have been built simply from personally responding to an autoresponder message. This tactic has worked for me because it’s unusual, and usually the recipient can see the humor in it.

5. Follow on Twitter before emailing.

I get stuck in the Twitter loop multiple times a day. That means I’ve always got a pretty good grasp on recent users who have followed our account.

I’ve spotted that I definitely open emails from people who have recently followed us on Twitter.

This makes complete sense.

Key point: The majority of us go through the social ‘loop’ multiple times a day. See if you can make a quick social interaction within a 1 hour window prior to emailing.

6. I open emails from people, not brands.

I open more emails where a persons name is displayed and I tend to ignore emails where in the name field, a brand name is used.

Thinking about it, there are two reasons for this:

  • Running a hip-hop blog, I get a lot of ‘blast’ emails. These usually have the blasting company name in the name field. Because I get so many of these, I now ignore almost all emails which have a brand name in the name field.
  • Due to the nature of our services and site, most inbound emails I receive are to ask me to do something.  I’m definitely more likely to do something if I feel there is going to be a human point of contact on the other side of the email.

7. I’m a sucker for “new” shit.

This week, the majority of music submission/enquiry emails I have read have contain the word ‘new’ within the first few words within the subject line. This surprised me, it’s not something I was consciously doing. I guess psychologically, like most hip-hop enthusiasts, if I can, I want to be the first person to hear good new music.


Back to those Kim K memes…I lied.

Ray West and John Robinson – Sample and Percussion EP


At the beginning of 2014, Bronx producer Ray West dropped Ray’s Café, a collaborative project with OC which was met with universal acclaim. Don’t sleep on that one for your yearly wrap up lists.

To close the year, Ray has hooked up with Sir Scienz of Life, John Robinson for their EP, “Sample and Percussion“. The project, released on November 11th,  is supported by the release of a limited run of tees and cassettes.

For a taste of what to expect, check the first release, “Classic Vibes” below.

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You can connect with Ray @redapples45 and John @whoisjr.

Yancey Boys “Lovin U” feat. Eric Roberson


With the third video from the Sunset Blvd album, this is Yancey Boys (Frank Nitt and Illa J) with 2x Grammy Award winner Eric ‘Erro’ Roberson.

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